Twitter is currently in a bit of a pickle. Since it floated on NASDAQ its stock has been falling, culminating in a drop of 10% in after hours trading when it recently announced its Q1 results. The reason for the beating? A combination of slowing growth in user numbers, a trading loss of $132 million, and the ability for staff and early investors to sell their shares for the first time.
But it is important to put things in context. User growth did slow, but Twitter still added 25% more people to its network, bringing total numbers up to 255 million. And it actually made a modest profit by some accounting standards (and certainly improved from last quarter’s $511 million loss). The company is still worth over $24 billion – about the same as breakfast cereal maker Kellogg’s for example, and a lot more than LinkedIn.
Essentially sentiment has turned against the microblogging site, with investors disappointed that it isn’t growing or adding new services in the same way as Facebook. The issue is a classic one of people expecting too much and then punishing a company for not delivering what they dreamt of.
Twitter is really hamstrung by the simplicity of its service. You go on, give a 140 character update on what you think is interesting, see what other people are saying and have a conversation or two. Yes, you can share other content, such as video and photos, but as Twitter is finding it is difficult to monetise conversations, based on the limited information it holds on users compared to the likes (or should that be Likes?) of Facebook. So any new features are correspondingly limited – you can now mute people that you still want to follow, but don’t actually want to listen to (how very polite!).
There are interesting things happening on Twitter – Amazon is experimenting with the ability to add items to your shopping basket through a tweet, for example. Where it is really succeeding is in becoming the mainstay of live interaction around big events, from football matches to breaking news stories or TV shows. 5.3 million tweets were sent around the Eurovision song contest on Saturday night – a new record for a non-sporting event. And more and more companies are using the channel to give customer service support, both in terms of spotting aggrieved customers and offering a faster alternative to email.
The point is, anyone that bought Twitter stock thinking they’d got the new Facebook was, frankly, delusional. But it is time for the social network to be a bit more adventurous and start thinking outside the 140 character box. In the same way that Google is built on capturing and analysing billions of pieces of user data, Twitter needs to better understand its members and actually monetise them more effectively. I appreciate that this sounds a bit mercenary for social media purists, but as a quoted company Twitter needs to spread its wings and fly. E-commerce is one area to look at, but how about creating private twitter feeds for individual companies, enabling staff to share their thoughts in real-time, or providing ready made monitoring packages for TV shows, celebrities or organisations. Perhaps it should buy another, complementary, network such as Pinterest. It could even look at creating paid-for subscription feeds, such as stock prices or business news from the likes of the FT or The Economist. The more you think about it, Twitter is no turkey – but what it needs is to both innovate and show the market that it coming up with cool new stuff if it isn’t to go the same way as MySpace or countless others…………
New research shows that the UK’s old age pensioners are moving away from lawn bowls, moaning and driving slowly to embrace social media. Figures from Nielsen demonstrate that Facebook membership by the over-50s grew 84 per cent between 2009 and 2011 (as against 41 per cent for overall membership).
It shouldn’t really be a major surprise – the impact of silver surfers, many of whom have a powerful combination of time and money, has been exciting online advertisers for several years. Essentially these figures see the older generation catching up with social media (Twitter stats follow the same trend). And Facebook does make it very easy to show the world photos of your darling grand kids and boast about your children’s jobs to all and sundry.
Perhaps more worrying for the younger generation the latest Socialnomics video from Erik Qualman shows that 69 per cent of parents are now ‘friends’ with their children on social media. If this trend continues all the kids will have to head back to Bebo or MySpace to avoid being poked by the older generation……………
- Social Media Revolution 2011 Video (janeknight.typepad.com)
For those that have come late to social networking, Facebook and Twitter are pretty much everything they want/need/use. But before Facebook became the giant it is today there were other popular social networks like Bebo and MySpace that have simply faded away. Essentially they haven’t crossed the chasm to mainstream adoption – and being the only one of your friends on a social network is lonely and frankly, a little pointless.
But Bebo is attempting a comeback. After being bought from the clutches of AOL by Californian entrepreneur Adam Levin it is now being relaunched. Backed by an array of media advisers, including ex-BBC One/Channel 4 controller Michael Jackson it aims to turnaround the site. UK user numbers are down to 1.9 million monthly visitors in January 2011 (compared to 5.7 million a year earlier), so clearly something needs to be done.
New features include more control over newsfeeds and a wider range of responses to posts rather than just ‘Like’. More importantly integration with other social networks is made easier, recognising that it is no longer the market leader. However I can’t help thinking this is too little, too late. For Bebo to survive it has to have a different purpose than Facebook rather than simply improving its features. Unfortunately without that, the relaunch may prove a temporary upward blip as it follows MySpace towards social media oblivion.
- Resurrected Bebo gets a facelift (venturebeat.com)
- Bebo Tries Redesign To Halt Traffic Slide (paidcontent.org)
- Boo.com founder fears net bubble (ft.com)
- 8 reviews of Bebo (rateitall.com)
- AOL Broke Bebo, This Man Is Fixing It — Our Q&A With CEO Adam Levine (AOL) (businessinsider.com)
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Marketing is undergoing a revolution. The advent of social media provides the opportunity for one-to-one communication for the first time since the move to an industrial society. This blog will look at what this means for B2B PR and marketing, incorporating my own thoughts/rants and interests. Do let me know your feedback!
About meI'm Chris Measures and I've spent the last 18 years creating and implementing PR and marketing campaigns for technology companies. I've worked with everyone from large quoted companies to fast growth start-ups, giving me unrivalled experience and ideas. I'm now director of Measures Consulting, an agency that uses this expertise to deliver PR and marketing success for technology businesses.
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